by Dawn Quirk
If you were one of the people standing around the big tree on the President’s Lawn trying to save it from the phantom saw, you’re probably feeling pretty irritated since finding out the whole event was a hoax. If you didn’t go, you’re laughing at the people who were there. Regardless, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? (And no, we don’t mean the “organizer’s” thought of, “Hahaha, wouldn’t it be funny if we made a bunch of well-meaning students look gullible?”) There are real ways to save trees without this potential embarrassment.
While discussing this topic with a friend, I asked him what he thought of as the easiest way to save trees. Without a moment’s hesitation, he suggested mass murder of lumberjacks. (At this point, I made an excuse about having a lot of homework, and quickly exited.) While this method would certainly get conservation into the news, actually the easiest way to save trees is to recycle! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. You don’t even need to leave your dorm or commit manslaughter. Why should you make sure you recycle all of your paper? Think about this: one ton of non-recycled office paper uses twenty-four trees. This means that one package of five hundred sheets, which probably lasts the average Tufts student one month, uses 6% of a tree. This might not sound like much, but multiply that by five thousand students, and the undergraduate body is cutting down thirty trees per month just for printing in their dorms! Think about this next time you print out another picture of Sarah Palin to tape to the ceiling over your roommate’s bed. At least print it out on the back of a class handout you never read. Double-sided printing saves you money, saves trees, and points out to your professors that you’re environmentally responsible. Next time you’re buying paper, make sure to buy at least 30% recycled printer paper, and consider buying sketchbooks made from alternative materials, such as hemp. While we’re on the subject, remember to recycle the box board inserts in packaging, all cereal boxes, juice cartons, and envelopes (even those with plastic address windows.)
Here’s another statistic to consider: more than one hundred million trees are logged in America to produce junk mail. While we hope you will recycle the odd copy of Toscano (your number one source for bizarre lawn ornaments) that shows up in your Tufts mailbox, why not save yourself the trouble by taking a minute to get yourself off of their mailing list? Most magazines and other mailings have a number on the back that you can call to ask to be removed from the mailing list. Don’t stop with your Tufts mail; it’s nearly the holidays, and your family at home is probably being flooded with catalogs as you read this. While you’re home for Thanksgiving, take a break from the awkward conversations with your distant relatives to tackle that stack of magazines.
You might believe that paper recycling isn’t a big deal because of tree farming, which supposedly reduces pressure on natural forests. This idea itself is now being questioned because the trees produced by most tree farms are used for different purposes than those logged from forests. Further, forests have to fall or agricultural land must be taken over before a tree farm can be established. This is not only damaging to ecosystems around the world, but often disrupts rural communities. Paper mills usually aren’t built until several years after a tree farm is planted, so while companies can claim that they are creating jobs, often people are forced to abandon their communities before the new jobs arrive. By recycling, you’re not only saving trees, but you’re discouraging the destruction of rural communities around the world. Please support trees that can’t get a man in a banana suit to sit in their branches and advocate for them with a megaphone!